Navy Pier

Chicago Chefs Prepare to Cook for Ukraine Refugee Fundraiser at Navy Pier

Organizer's of Wednesday's event at Navy Pier hope to raise $1 million

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Dozens of Chicago's most popular chefs are coming together for a common goal, hoping to raise $1 million to feed Ukrainian refugees.

"Our community together as one voice has been really strong throughout the pandemic. It has brought us closer together," said Chef Tony Priolo, of Piccolo Sogno in West Town.

Priolo saw images coming out of Ukraine on television and knew he wanted to help. He sent an email to others in the culinary community, and they immediately answered the call.

Sarah Stegner, the co-owner of Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, was one of them. She's now an event host.

"It was an unbelievable, overwhelming response," she said. "The chefs just immediately were like, 'what can we do? What do you need?'"

The event came together in less than three weeks and will take place on an important pandemic anniversary.

"Coincidentally, we were closed on March 16, [the] two year anniversary of the date we were able to get Navy Pier donated to us for free," said Priolo.

More than 70 chefs are participating in the curated tasting. Each offering will be unique and some are a nod to the cuisine of Ukraine.

"Smoked beats, ricotta, and sunflower seeds," said Giuseppe Tentori, of GT Fish & Oyster and GT Prime Steakhouse, describing his dish.

The sunflower is Ukraine's national flower and the photo used in branding for the event.

Proceeds will benefit World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization started by celebrity chef Jose Andres.

Right now, relief teams are on the front lines, serving food to refugee families at eight of Ukraine's border crossings with Poland.

The organization responds to humanitarian crises and natural disasters, partnering with local restaurants, caterers and food trucks to provide fresh, hot meals.

"When you see Jose Andres on the front lines, he represents every one of us that has that feeling that we want to make a difference and be there. This is our way of supporting it and making it happen," said Stegner.

Chicago Chefs Cook for Ukraine is Wednesday from 6-9 PM in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. Tickets are still available online.

Beverages have been donated by Breakthru Beverage Group, and Lifeway Foods is a presenting sponsor.

The group is also still accepting corporate partners to meet their goal.

"We hope it’s not just [Wednesday], but other city will pick up from our event and just keep going and doing it," said Tentori.

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